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Anheuser-Busch to distribute Grolsch.

Anheuser-Busch Cos. Inc. will now be the sole U.S. distributor of Grolsch beer.

"Grolsch is a quality, well-known name among American beer drinkers, making it an ideal partner to begin building our import portfolio around," Anheuser-Busch President August Busch IV said.

The St. Louis brewer has been under pressure to add specialty beers and imports to its portfolio, as sales of mainstream beer brands have flattened out.

"Change is all around in how consumers enjoy our product," Busch IV said at a news conference announcing the move. "Our company is embracing these changes."

Busch indicated in his statements that Anheuser-Busch would add additional "select" import brands to the brewer's portfolio.

The deal will become effective in January, 2007, and will give Netherlands-based Grolsch access to Anheuser-Busch's national distribution system of 600 wholesalers.

Terms of the deal were not disclosed, but the companies said Anheuser-Busch will not take any ownership of Grolsch.

"For Grolsch, this is an 'American Dream come true.' I can only call it a breakthrough," said Ab Pasman, chief executive officer of Royal Grolsch N.V. "This alliance confirms our international growth strategy, which is based on the conviction that there is most certainly a place in the international beer market for a strong and independent premium brand such as Grolsch. Anheuser-Busch is an ideal partner in this strategy. I also want to take this opportunity to thank our present partner, USB, for its cooperation over the past few years."

USB spokesman Ronn Torossian said the loss of Grolsch will have little impact on the Stamford company. "U.S. Beverage is doing tremendously well," he said.
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Publication:Modern Brewery Age
Date:Feb 27, 2006
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